Written by Dr. Boyce Watkins on March 28, 2012 11:34 am
Once upon a time, there lived a boy named Trayvon Martin. You might have heard something about Mr. Martin, perhaps as a small snippet in some obscure news story in the bottom back corner of your local newspaper. Trayvon was an unarmed 17-year old, shot in peculiar circumstances by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was a 28-year old, self-appointed night watchman wannabe police officer who lived with his parents and spent his life evading prosecution for his behavior because he is the son of a judge.
Now that I’ve laid the facts out there for you, I want to let you in on a little, teeny, tiny secret: Trayvon Martin was BLACK. Yes, he was an African American male, one of those rodent-like creatures who die in the street by the dozens every single day with hardly any of our legislators (including the black ones) saying a word about it. My sister does autopsies in Chicago and said that nearly all of the homicides that come into her office are African American males between the ages of 18 and 30. If gay white kids from the suburbs were being murdered by bullies at a similar clip, MSNBC would treat it as a national epidemic.
I feel that I must remind the world that Travyon is black because everyone keeps trying to get away from the issue. Zimmerman followed Trayvon and felt compelled to question him because he was a black man in a neighborhood in which he didn’t belong. It seems that whenever there is an injustice served to a black man, liberal organizations always seem to want to hijack the matter and turn it into their own.
If you ask the good folks at MSNBC, Trayvon’s death was more of a civil liberties issue than a racial one. His death is all about modifying gun control legislation and changing the “Stand Your Ground law” in Florida. The eternally haunting and sadly unethical execution of Troy Davis was the story of yet another black man having his life destroyed by an unjust prison system. But if you ask Amnesty International, it was a springboard for their campaign to end the death penalty.
Do I disagree with the liberal assessment of the Martin and Davis cases? Absolutely not. Both cases contain numerous examples of civil liberties violations and I am hopeful that they can inspire inept legislators to make our laws a bit safer. But first and foremost, we are being delusional if we don’t fully understand, acknowledge and make it abundantly clear that Troy and Trayvon being African American contributed significantly to the fact that they are both dead.
The bottom line is that there are hundreds of thousands of Trayvons and Troys in the world. These are men who are affected by the “black death” that has come to encompass the experience of the black male in America. If we are not killed by overzealous law enforcement officers or racists like George Zimmerman, we may see our lives ended by another black male who finds it entirely too easy to get his hands on a gun after being denied a good education or job opportunities, and being sufficiently brainwashed by commercialized hip hop to murder men who look just like him. In fact, educated black men who have something to lose may become primary targets of those who have a death wish.
I am personally tired of liberal organizations hijacking tragedies like Trayvon’s and turning them into political footballs. Since Trayvon died, there have been dozens of black men who’ve had their lives ruined as a result of imbalanced justice systems and systemic obstacles creating the toxic outcomes that occur as a result of racial oppression. I want equal energy from MSNBC and other networks to be applied to the epidemic of black male homicide in America, or the impact that mass incarceration has had on the African American family. If liberals expect African Americans to walk in lockstep with them on various social issues, they must share the pain we endure due to the forced erosion of the African American family. Inequality in justice, education and economics continues to plague us like World Trade Center Terrorists, even as millions of us work hard to do the best we possibly can.
Our brothers are dying by the boatload, and every black mother in America fears for the life of her son. Millions of fathers and husbands have been prison for far longer than they should be, and their children are perpetually traumatized because of it. It’s time to wake up and smell the mortality and stop side-stepping the issue of race.